Juan J. Martinez, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded a 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Martinez and his research group are working to better understand the contribution of a family of surface cell antigens, expressed by pathogenic rickettsial species, to the initiation and progression of disease in animals and humans.
This award is a renewal of an existing NIH R01 grant in the amount of $1,832,000, for the calendar years 2015-2020.
Dr. Martinez and his team are studying Rickettsia rickettsii, Rickettsia conorii, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF). The goal is to identify proteins that play a role in pathogenesis and then to develop strategies to inhibit their function.
“Most of the studies that we do rely on identifying the function of an outer-membrane protein and investigating whether immunization of an animal (mouse) with this protein elicits protective immune responses against fatal disease,” said Dr. Martinez. “This renewal will bolster our efforts to elucidate the function of this family of conserved proteins present in pathogenic rickettsial species and to potentially exploit them for the development of targeted and efficacious anti-rickettsial therapies.”